Why do thy disciples transgress the atradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your atradition?
Are You Correlated?
The past couple of weeks I’ve been reading a fair amount of stuff either written by, or of, Daymon Smith, PhD. Daymon Smith, for those of you who don’t know him, is the author of a book called “The Book of Mammon: A Book About A Book About the Corporation that Owns the Mormons,” as well as a lengthy dissertation (here’s a link to the .pdf version, for those interested in an in-depth look at Smith’s take on the correlation process) on the correlation process that has defined the LDS church over the past few decades, more on that later. I am currently knee deep in the Book of Mammon and have briefly skimmed over and through the dissertation, with hopes of reading it more in depth as I make time to do so. I have listened to his 4-part interview on Mormon Stories, read an interview he had with Main Street Plaza and finished reading his 9-part interview over at By Common Consent just yesterday. In short, I have become semi-engrossed in the topic, though certainly there is so much more to read.
The reason I add the above preface is because other, outside sources are proving to provide some small degree of synchronicity with what I’ve read about Smith’s work, and the whole process of correlation. A more appropriate title for this entry may be, How Correlated Are You?, but nevertheless, as you’ll see, it’s not a measure of how much anymore than it is as simple as checking a box, yes or no.
There are many other topics on my radar which I hope to journalize in the coming weeks, but I wanted to get this all in one post for reference later in my life. I find it much easier to have convenient access to a topic (as I hope to do here) than to have 100 moving parts on 100 different sites which take time, energy and diligence to pursue – and I run short on all points. My mind, it appears, is as limited by cognitive chunking as the rest of you. This chunking, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), plays hand-in-hand with this discussion on correlation, as will hopefully be clear by the end of this entry.
It really is interesting to note the congruence between several different people, all saying the same or similar things, in different venues, surrounded by different audiences and working against (or within) the same system. Over the past few weeks, these sources include a Mormon anthropologist, an author/attorney, an time monk/urban survivalist and some dude writing to the people over at the CIA. Talk about a bizarre collection of people.
Returning to correlation, one of my chief beliefs on this topic is that it is (and was) something that was happening regularly and frequently (i.e., there was some behemoth behind the scenes running a correlation committee which felt their imperative duty was to align everything with officialdom). That was my view and belief, until I started synthesizing some of the information coming in from the four horsemen.
Daymon Smith on Correlation
In his 9-part interview with BCC, the overall message I seemed to get from Daymon was that of the correlated Mormon. I realize others may have (and likely did) get a different gist – and judging from the comments to each section, that largely appears to be the case – but that was the underlying theme. Correlated Mormons. Within this framework, Daymon stated the following:
“So this is the alignment of the Correlated Church, which really makes something like opposition impossible, because if you are different from the correlated or ideal congregation or Mormon, what you really are is just someone who is not yet fully realized as a Correlated Mormon. You can’t oppose it, you can just be situated along a continuum which will eventually lead you into it. You’re just somewhere along the Phase-1-2-3 gradient. … There certainly is a Correlation Committee, but it does very little today. It does very minor things like fact checking. One committee member crossed out the word “love” when it was applied to the Book of Mormon, because you’re only supposed to love living beings. It might regulate the use of certain stock phrases, but this is all very minor. … Another way to say this is that what becomes public Mormonism are those things which are correlatable or are already under the productive gaze of this correlation process that goes back, maybe all the way to the Underground. … And they give you the privilege of going back and reading, say, Plato and restructure his entire arguments around these correlated categories and thus discover for yourself that Plato indeed taught the Eternal and Unchanging Gospel, which in some sense maybe he did, but not necessarily the Gospel of Correlation. My concern with the entire dissertation was to explain how historical processes such as the Underground, or some … theological changes, and political changes, relate to the ways in which we tell our histories. What I argue ultimately is that it changes the way we approach the texts, all texts. … So history, here, becomes another space for colonization, just like Native America or Latin America. But it’s a very subtle kind of reconstruction, in which we only allow certain things to exist within certain Mormon properties. … It’s almost impossible to resist because you don’t ever confront it, you can’t even see it. It’s the way modern power works. It’s distributed across every point of your interaction, and thus constitutes its own reality, which you could never see, any more than a fish could ever really see water.”
For someone who has written over 900 published pages on the correlation process (and likely much more), it’s likely unfair to pin down Daymon’s topic into a 363 word quote, but that’s just what I’ve done. And, unfortunately, this may very well be a result of my correlated mind. By me telling a part of my history, I’m engaging in some of the same abstract logic that he discusses in the other parts of this interview. This presents an unfortunate obstacle.
The CIA on Correlation
That obstacle is perhaps best summarized in a document on thinking and writing available through the CIA library website and is, itself, a short illustration on mental paralysis:
A centipede was happy quite.
Until a frog in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
This raised its mind to such a pitch
It lay distracted in a ditch
Considering how to run.
So, how do I proceed, knowing that the obstacle in front of me is no more nor less than a largely correlated mind? Ah, that’s not really an issue. We’re all correlated, having grown up in a correlated system, it’s sort of like a crust that’s developed. Perhaps we can crack out of it, perhaps not. Why lay distracted in a ditch knowing how correlated I really am?
In this same document, the following quote describes how it is that we process, or try to process, the information that pops into our lives at any given moment and gets back to the chunky discussion (think of the truffle shuffle as you do so):
The heuristic approach is based in part on deeply set mental patterns. “Working memory,” the part of the mind that does our conscious mental work, can handle about seven items at a time. In compensation, it can manipulate those items with extraordinary speed. Cognitive scientists refer to this manipulative capability as the mind’s chunking capacity—our ability to develop conceptual entities or chunks, to build hierarchies of those entities, to alter them, and to bring wildly differing entities together. We form chunks about any information that interests us, and we tend to believe our chunks are valid until the evidence that they are not is overwhelming. Each new bit of data is evaluated in light of the chunks already on hand; it is much harder to evaluate existing chunks on the basis of new evidence. When we need to get through large quantities of data, when we do not have to move too far from an experiential reference point, and when a “best possible” solution suffices, heuristics and chunking can be amazingly effective, as Herbert Simon proved in his studies of first-class chess players. Such players are distinguished by the large number of board patterns (50,000, say) they keep in their long-term memories. Talent obviously is important as well, but Simon concluded that no one can become an expert player without such a store of chunks. Developing such a store in any field of mental activity is laborious, and there apparently are no shortcuts: the investment may not pay off for a decade.
George Ure on Correlation
This, in turn, was added upon by a thought by George Ure and his thoughts on choosing your circle of friends. His thinking, as it were, is to send out an email to your closest friends and ask them where they’d like to spend the rest of their lives, in ideal situations. If your friends reply with “On a beach loaded with attractive members of the opposite sex and an unlimited bar tab” you might consider a different circle of friends because those bounded worldviews are shared at a deep level. If, on the other hand, most of your friends would be perfectly happy at the world’s biggest library, or knowledge trapping on the net, well, that would be the mark of the kind of people that tend to be ‘above average’ upstairs. Or so George thinks.
It’s axiomatic that our thinking is bounded by our inputs. Although it’s plain as day, most people never quite seem to get around to pushing the envelopes of their thinking in order to expand its boundaries toward unlimited. When you read certain books on the way people think and how they not only filter what does come into their presence, but also understanding the high level filtering that goes on at the preconscious level such that you don’t even know certain sources exist, it becomes clear that the reason there even is a PowersThatBe class is not so much necessarily because of conspiracy (although it’s a popular notion) but perhaps because so few people have a really burning philosophy of inquiry.
Denver Snuffer on Correlation
Turning, lastly, to yet another discussion I found on this topic. Though Snuffer has talked extensively on correlation, the following comment was recently made and, in his mind, may have nothing to do (ultimately) with correlation. Nevertheless, it does to me, at least in the context of the above information.
It may as well be a dream. It involves our collective slumber. We get pictures in our head when we are taught some truth and presume that the picture is accurate. Then after we have repeated the “truth” often enough, we go on to believe the picture must be all-inclusive. Once we’ve arrived at that point, the truth no longer matters. Our minds are made up. We’ve decided the answers, and no further evidence will be considered. This certainty is reinforced when more people reach the same conclusion because they share the same picture in their head. You get together with others and testify that you are all in possession of the truth; not only the truth, but ALL of the truth. Before long every one of the group can pass a lie-detector test about the truth as they explain it. As a result, this herd is incapable of ever seeing the picture differently. They cannot open their minds to the idea that their picture is skewed or off. It is most certainly incomplete. It is, in fact, so far short of the whole story that when any part of the remaining, missing information is shown to them they are certain it is a lie.
It would appear that this idea could be summed up with a simple inquiry: are you, or are you not, interested in the truth?
If you believe only the correlated truth, or some portion thereof, then it may be time to rethink things. And, though it be true that we’re all presented with inputs that are written from the perspective from others, we’re still charged with finding truth, or so I think. In Paramahansa Yogananda’s book that discusses each verse of the four gospels in the New Testament, his premise in writing that book was built around obtaining the truth irrespective of others opinions. His premise was that truth should come through unfiltered from the source of all truth.
That, at least, is the goal. Getting to that goal is a goal in itself. Correlation, it would seem, is an obstacle to that goal. For example, in Boyd Packer’s most recent General Conference address he speaks of the Church’s ability to correlate authority and priesthood. Interestingly, Packer played an integral role in getting correlation started and rolling, being one of the original former missionaries who had served with Native Americans who just couldn’t grasp the gospel as taught by those missionaries. Their apparent inability to grasp the gospel according to those missionaries was the ultimate impetus for the correlation program. Those former missionaries were, as the logic followed, smarter and thereby they needed to dumb down the curriculum so that everyone could understand it. I’ve written about this previously (Taking it Easy on New Members), and my feelings are still largely the same.
In Packer’s talk, he stated the following:
“We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” (Emphasis added.)
Some of you may agree with that paragraph and see the logic in it. Some of you may see no issue in what Packer stated. And, certainly, given our correlated minds, there may be no need to even question it. Contrast, however, that above paragraph with what is written in the Book of Alma. After reading that chapter, how do you personally reconcile the differences, if any, between what Packer stated and what Alma stated? But, that is only one topic in a very wide cross-section of correlation. In the end, this whole issue of correlation, comes down (in my opinion) to the idea of how much we allow ourselves to be correlated? And, is being correlated a bad thing? And, can the truth set us free if we’re unable to recognize our need for truth?
That, I think, is a good question to end this discussion on correlation with. So, my fellow correlated minds, which is it?
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo